We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.

—Thomas Edison

5.1 Introduction

This chapter ends Part One of the book dealing with the power grid in the pre-smart-grid era. Consumption also ends the classical chain of power systems leading to the end user. We began with generation and the tendency toward large, centralized power plants, transmission of large amounts of power over long distances to reach populated areas, and distribution, which transforms power to become suitable for the end user and distributes it to individual users. Even though it may not be readily apparent, the end user can be considered part of the power system. In fact, some aspects of the smart grid involve finding ways to either manage loads the end users operate or manage end users themselves through pricing schemes such as DR. All of these concepts existed and have been tested or put into use long before the smart grid. The hope is that recent advances in communication will make such mechanisms more reliable, ubiquitous, and cost effective. Thus, it is important to learn from the past before jumping into smart grid promises for the consumer. It is easy to become so involved in the technology that we forget that the consumer is the most important aspect of the power grid. If the consumer cannot see value in the smart grid, it will not become reality.

This chapter begins with a discussion of electric loads and their interaction with consumers and the power grid. This ...

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